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Matthew Helmke - 1 

Nowhere Else to 

Nowhere Else to Turn 

Matthew Helmke - 3 

Nowhere Else to 

Matthew Helmke 

Stories of the supernatural in Morocco. 

4 - 'Nowhere Else to Turn 

For more information about this book or to contact the author please email: 
matthe w @ matthe whelmke. com 

Contents © 2008 Matthew Helmke 

Cover art by Matthew Helmke and © 2008 Matthew Helmke 

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First edition, published 2008 by Matthew Helmke. 
ISBN: 978-0-615-26419-6 

Printed and bound by Lulu, Inc. 

Matthew Helmke - 5 


This book is dedicated ... Boujmaa and Fatimafor their friendship, love and 
insights into culture. Hanane and other wonderful Moroccans like her for 
being open and honest, even when talking about difficult 


...and to the grumpy guy in the immigration office in Fes, 

Morocco for forcing me to stretch myself linguistically, 

culturally, and for providing me with multiple insights into 

the culture that I never would have had if my interactions 

with you had been easy or quick. 

Nowhere Else to Turn 

Matthew Helmke - 7 


I would like to thank my wonderful wife, Heather, 
for her encouragement and assistance, especially being 
willing to sit and chaperone while I interviewed Moroccan 
women for portions of the background research. That 
helped make the atmosphere significantly more 
comfortable, both for the ladies I interviewed as well as for 
their families. 

Thanks go out to the many Moroccans who were 
willing to discuss the topic of this book with me and share 
their stories, even when they were nervous to do so. For 
many, talking about these taboo topics required them to 
confront fear of rejection, reprisal, and the supernatural 
realm. It was not easy, but it was certainly appreciated and 

I would also like to thank those of my friends and 
colleagues who helped me edit, fact-check and prepare this 

8 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

book for publication, especially T. Aaron Robinette and 
Corrie Wilson. 

You might be interested to know that this book was 
created and formatted using free software called Open 
Office, available at, on a computer running 
a free operating system called Ubuntu Linux, available at 

Matthew Helmke - 9 

Table of Contents 

Dedication 5 

Acknowledgments 7 

Preface 11 

The Big Game 17 

A Wife from the Mountains 23 

Hamid's Field 35 

Boy on an Errand 43 

The Old Lady's Visit 53 

A Visit at Night 65 

I Can Tell Your Future 79 

The Magic Shop 91 

Pilgrimage 99 

The Grotto Ill 

Don't Cry 121 

Epilogue 127 

Final notes and thoughts 131 

Fonts used 135 

Also by Matthew Helmke 135 

10 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

Matthew Helmke - 1 1 


Trapped. Powerless. We have all felt that way from 
time to time. How we deal with those feelings depends a 
lot on our personality, our experiences, and our points of 
view. I find it interesting to observe people as they struggle 
against the unknown. All of us experience mysterious 
events in our lives. We ascribe those things to fate, to the 
will of God, to happenstance, to luck, or to dark and 
sinister forces, both seen and unseen. To a large extent, our 
background and philosophy of life will determine who or 
what gets the credit for the enigmas we encounter. 

Every chapter in this book is a complete story in 
itself. Some are long and some are short. Each is written 

12 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

from a specific and unique perspective, that of the person 
from whom I heard the tale. Whether you believe in the 
supernatural or not, whether you find the events I relay 
credible or fantastic, I think you will find this collection 

Each story is one which was told to me by a real 
person, someone I met during my travels throughout 
Morocco. Every single one was told to me as if it were 
complete and absolute truth. 

I do not claim that the enclosed are representative of 
the majority of Moroccans, nor even the average 
Moroccan. They may be, and they may not be. One person 
in particular told me quite emphatically that "everyone in 
Morocco believes in the supernatural, in sorcery, in 
witchcraft, in spirits, and jinn^- and the evil eye, but no one 
will admit it to you. They are afraid. They are afraid of 
what you will think, that you will laugh at them. They are 

1 Jinn are defined in the second chapter, A Wife from the 

Matthew Helmke - 13 

afraid of what might happen to them if they start to talk 
about these things. Maybe a jinn or a sorcerer will hear 
them and cause them problems. No one wants problems. 
Everyone believes, even those who do not participate, 
except to wear five against the evil eye." I can neither 
confirm nor deny that claim. 

The last phrase in that quote refers to a charm, in the 
shape of the hand of Fatima, the Prophet's Mohammed's 
daughter. Her hand, with its five fingers, is said to stop the 
evil eye. It is said that there remains to this day a great 
amount of right hand and left hand magic in Morocco. This 
is a belief, one among many, that predates the coming of 
Islam to this land, and which has never been eliminated. 
The right hand is said to be capable of doing magic for 
good for those who have studied and know how to wield 
the power. The left is capable of great evil, but it is also the 
hand with the power to stop the evil eye. The charms and 
symbols, as well as the live act of putting up a hand to stop 
the evil eye from causing harm, generally use the left hand. 

14 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

While I do not claim the following to demonstrate or 
display truly universal beliefs in this country, regardless of 
what this particular informant said, I do claim that these 
are stories that would be considered credible by a large 
number of people I have met in Morocco, and that the 
people telling them to me were speaking in a manner that 
was completely honest and forthright in their belief that the 
stories are true and that they describe actual events from 
their lives. I believe everyone was convinced of the truth 
of what they were telling me. Ultimately, however, I will 
let the reader decide. It is in this spirit that I will recount 
the stories, with respect toward those who told them, and 
with no wish to mock, or demean, or patronize. 

I confess that I have added to each of these tales. My 
additions have been in the areas of setting the scene, 
broadening the characters, and filling out the dialogue. 
These additions are completely mine and I must shoulder 
the responsibility for any problems encountered with them. 
The details and framework for each story remain 

Matthew Helmke - 15 

completely intact as they were given to me and are things 
for which I can take no credit. 

The first story, The Big Game, is the only one that I 
witnessed firsthand. I am the narrator, and Mohamed is a 
real person. We attended the game in 2003, when I was 
living in Casablanca. 

16 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

Matthew Helmke - 1 7 

The Big Game 

It was the day of the big game. My friend, 
Mohamed, came to me and invited me to attend the match 
with him. One of the two main soccer teams from 
Casablanca, Raja, was going to play the national team 
from Senegal. 

We approached the stadium about half an hour 
before the game was to start. Many of the seats were 
already filled. As we sat down, Mohamed nudged me and 

"Look! The goalkeeper for Senegal is digging! That 
is bad." 

I could see the man crouched in front of the goal he 
would be defending. He had dug a small hole with his 

18 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

hands and was dropping something in. 

"What is it?" I asked. 

"They have magic. It is very powerful. He is 
burying something that will protect the goal and not allow 
the ball to enter. Our team is in trouble," my friend replied. 

"Wait. You are a good Muslim. Surely you don't 
beheve in this sort of thing," I asked. 

"Of course I believe in it!" he replied. "How could I 
not? Sorcery and magic are in the book^, so I know they 
are real. We were warned to avoid these things." 

I didn't know how to reply, so I just sat back to see 
what would happen. The game started slowly, with the two 
teams taking their turns to learn the other team's defense 
strategy while attempting to penetrate it and score. 

The Moroccan team tried again and again to score. 
Each shot was blocked by the Senegalese goalie. 

"You see?" my friend asked. "Do you see how 
strong their magic is?" 

2 The Qur'an. 

Matthew Helmke - 19 

I could hear despair in his voice. Before I could 
reply, Senegal scored a goal. The crowd erupted in moans, 
cries, and a corporate time of mourning. There were shouts 
and accusations of cheating and rules violations, the usual. 

At halftime, the score remained zero to one, in the 
Senegal team's favor. 

A man came by selling handmade sandwiches, made 
of egg, mayonnaise, and spices on half loaves of French 
baguettes. Mohamed and I bought and shared one, while I 
listened to his lament over the power of the sub-Saharan 
goalie and his occult skills. 

"Look, he's doing it again!" 

At halftime, the teams switch sides on the field. I 
didn't notice him dig the old one up, but as I turned to 
look, I could see the same man digging and placing 
something in the ground in front of the goal he would 
defending in the second half of the game. 

"We have to find a way to defeat their magic, or we 
will never win." I could hear the same sentiment 

20 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

murmured over and over in the crowd around us. 

The half got underway. Both sides were playing 
good defense, and the ball never got close to either goal. 
Then, with about ten minutes left in the game, a boy ran 
out to the field. He looked to be about twelve years old, 
and he was being chased by three security guards. 

The crowd erupted in an exuberant cheer. My friend 
elbowed me to get my attention and to make sure I 
wouldn't miss the excitement. 

"Look! He's going to get it!" 

Sure enough, the boy ran quickly to the spot where 
the opposing player had buried his talisman, dug it up, and 
was nearly off of the field before the security men caught 
up. As they carried him out of the stadium, the crowd went 
wild, cheering their support loudly. 

At that moment, the Moroccan team scored a goal. 
A celebration erupted such as I have never seen. Joy was 
everywhere, the joy of triumph. This seemed greater than a 
typical celebration over scoring, this was good overcoming 

Matthew Helmke - 21 

evil, a winning of the war, the stadium's Independence 

With two minutes left in the game, the Moroccan 
team scored again. The cheers never ceased, but continued 
well after the game itself was over. 

My friend and I were carried out of the stadium by a 
river of people, twenty thousand strong, all flowing to the 
one exit door that was open and into the streets. We 
walked a mile through the streets of Casablanca listening 
to the shouts and jubilation of the victors. 

As we did, he repeated over and over, "Did you see? 
Did you see? They have great power, but we found a way 
to defeat it!" 

22 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

Matthew Helmke - 23 

A Wife from the Mountains 

Life in the mountains is peaceful. Farming here is 
difficult because of the rocky soil, but it is worth it. Why? 
Because we are free. We come when we want, we go when 
we want. No one comes up here to tell us what to do. 

Sometimes the Makhzen come, men from the 
government. They require us to pay taxes and fill out some 
forms once in a while. Otherwise, they leave us alone. No 
matter what they tell you in the town below, they don't 
really rule here. We let them think so and they leave us 

This is an empty place. It is quiet. Listen. You can 
hear a gentle breeze, some birds across the meadow are 
singing. Si Mohamed's^ donkey is braying on the next hill. 

3 Si Mohamed means Mr. Mohamed and is a title of respect. 

24 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

complaining about being loaded up with vegetables to sell 
in the weekly market down the hill. I don't blame him. I 
wouldn't want to carry all that weight down the trail either. 

Are you hungry? The figs are ripe, and they are very 
good this year. I'll send Houda out to pick some. Houda! 
Bring our guest some of the figs off of the tree, and get a 
bowl of almonds, too. We had a good harvest of almonds. 
Eat some! 

I'm glad you came so early in the day, and 
particularly at this time. The sun is out. It is a good time of 
year. Not too hot, not too cold. It is also good that you 
came on a souk day, when the weekly market is in session. 
There is a lot of activity on the trails today. People are 
hiking up and down the mountain from miles all around to 
buy and sell. The activity is good, it keeps you safe. The 
jinn don't like it when lots of people are around. They 
always retreat to somewhere more remote on market days. 

Did you know that it is dangerous to travel by 
yourself in these mountains? We all live here as free men, 
and we take our freedom seriously. We don't want anyone 
from the outside to disturb our way of life, so we mostly 

Matthew Helmke - 25 

keep to ourselves. We watch out for each other, too. 
However, our protection is not automatic for an outsider. 
You came here with Mohammed, so we know you are 
okay. Don't worry, you will be safe anywhere on this 
mountain if you are with him. Everyone knows him. Don't 
ever come here alone. You don't know who lives up here 
and what they are capable of doing. That's why the 
government leaves us alone. 

I remember when the French were here. That was a 
long time ago. I was already in my late 20s when we 
kicked them out, so I remember a lot about their time in 
the area. They thought they could come in and tell us how 
to live, how to farm. They thought they could rule here. 
They were wrong. 

You see that hill? Over there, the tall one with the 
narrow gorge? I watched some of my father's relatives 
ambush a French patrol right there. You see that mound at 
the bottom? That is where we buried a French officer who 
tried to call for their troops to come in and cause us 
trouble. After that, they didn't come up on our mountain 

26 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

Where did they Hve? Down there. See that hilltop 
overlooking the town? No, not that one, it's too close. The 
other one, about two miles from here, right above the 
town. Yeah, there. On top of that hill is a fortress. It is in 
ruins now, but when the French were here, it was the home 
of more than ten thousand of them. They had a prison 
there, too. My uncle was taken there and beaten. Others 
were starved and tortured. That's why the place is in ruins. 
Too much blood was spilled there. People can't live there 
anymore. The place is haunted now. 

The French came in, they told us they knew how to 
live here. They told us they knew better than us. They said 
they were more powerful than we are. Well, they had 
better guns, and they had airplanes, but those only win 
battles. You can't defeat people like us with something so 
small as guns and airplanes, not in these mountains. We 
have something better. We have freedom, and we will fight 
to the end of time to keep it. We do what we want, when 
we want, and we take care of our own. 

See that mountain there? It has caves in it. The 
caves are too small to see from here, they are about ten 

Matthew Helmke - 27 

miles away. When the French would come up the 
mountains to look for us, we could see them a full thirty 
minutes before they could get to us. They walk and hike a 
lot slower than us, so sometimes it would take them almost 
two hours to walk up here. By they time they would arrive, 
they would find our homes empty and the places deserted. 

They didn't know about the caves for a long time. 
When they found out, they realized they could not get their 
soldiers to the caves without passing through dangerous 
places, where we would be able to kill them en route. They 
didn't even try to come, but they sent their airplanes. 

Do you see that broken area on the mountain? That 
was caused by bombs from the French airplanes. The 
caves are still there, and there are lots more that they never 
found. They couldn't come in and beat us, so they decided 
to try to hurt us by bombing the caves. Some people died, 
most survived. We all got angry. 

They would come and break things in our houses 
while we were gone. Sometimes, someone wouldn't get out 
in time and they would break up the house, destroy the 
furniture, and kill the animals right in front of the person. 

28 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

Then, they would beat them up so badly they wished they 
had died, but they didn't. Instead, they made sure the 
person was just hurt badly, but not in danger of dying. 
Why? To scare all of us. To try to make us into sheep who 
would do their bidding. It didn't work. It made our blood 
rise and the ferocity of our ancestors' warrior roots came 
back into us. We fought back. We fought in whatever way 
we could. And the jinn fought with us. 

What are jinn? I thought you said you were 
educated? What sort of worthless things do they teach at 

Jinn are spirits. Some are good, some are bad. They 
are like humans, but without physical bodies. Men were 
made from dirt, jinn were made from fire. Some of the jinn 
are believers and follow God, some are apostate and 
follow only themselves or Satan. They can take physical 
form, and they can change that form, but they will not 
remain in any physical form. They are spirits. 

No, no, they are different from angels. Jinn are not 
eternal. They are born, they live, they get married, they 
have offspring, and eventually, they die. They live a lot 

Matthew Helmke - 29 

longer than people, over many of our lifetimes. 

Jinn can live anywhere in the world, but they prefer 
quiet, solitary places. Sometimes they will live in caves, 
but they especially like places where there is water, like 
springs or wells. 

They are a lot like us, here on the mountain. They 
like to be left alone and not disturbed. Usually, if you treat 
them with respect, they will leave you alone. Jinn and 
people can live side by side in peace, if they respect each 

People on this mountain have seen jinn for 
thousands of years. It isn't as common now, probably 
because there are a lot more people today than there used 
to be, and the jinn like to be alone. Most have probably 
moved on to more remote areas. When I was a kid, there 
were less than half the number of homes here that there are 
today, and the town at the bottom of the hill had maybe 
five thousand people in it. 

Of course I have seen jinn! I've seen them hundreds 
of times with my own eyes. Most of the ones I have seen, 
that interact with people, are unbelievers. They are evil. 

30 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

You can call them "demons." They like to play tricks on 
people. They like to scare us and try to make us forget 

Sometimes jinn will throw rocks at you while you 
are walking down a trail. Usually, they are just little rocks, 
pebbles that don't really hurt when they hit, but your heart 
starts to beat faster and faster and faster. They love to do 
things like this right at dusk, or later, during the night. I tell 
people they should always try to be home and inside after 
dark, if they are here on the mountain. 

At other times, jinn will whisper things behind you 
as you walk by. You won't see anything, but you will hear 
someone call your name. Maybe they will start to tell you 
things, like "I know where you have been" or "There is no 
one at home right now." It's frightening. 

There have been times when the jinn have appeared 
to me, let me see them. I've seen jinn appear in the shape 
of animals, like goats or sheep or cows, and then heard 
human voices coming from their mouths. They may 
choose to take the form of trees, like when you are walking 
down a path that you know well and suddenly find a tree 

Matthew Helmke - 31 

that was not there before. They sometimes look like rocks, 
hoping that you will try to pick them up so that they can do 
something bad to you. 

It was about twenty five years ago when my father 
died. No one wanted to prepare his grave. I was already 
married and had children to take care of, some were in 
their middle teens. I was about forty years old at the time. 
They needed someone to be an example to them, so I 
decided to take the responsibility and bury my father. It is 
important in our faith to bury the dead within a day. I dug 
the grave, laid my father in the hole, and covered him with 

I ran into a problem. I didn't have any stones for the 
top of the grave, to keep it from sinking in or being dug up. 
I went out looking, even though it was getting late. 

When you came to my house, did you see the fig 
tree along the path, about a quarter mile from here? The 
one with the spring next to it? Yes, that's the one, the short, 
wide and oddly shaped one. 

I walked up that same path that night, just at dusk, 
and I saw a stone underneath that fig tree. The stone was 

32 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

perfect. It was large enough to cover much of the grave, 
yet flat. It would take a lot of work to lift it and move it, 
but that was exactly what I wanted. 

I lifted the stone, slowly because it was very heavy. 
Suddenly my head felt light, like I had been spinning in 
circles over and over. I nearly fell down. That's when I 
noticed that in the ground, where the rock was, there was a 
hole that I had uncovered. 

Out of the hole flew a group of eight or nine horses, 
all black and very fast. They ran away quickly. Following 
the black horses was a female jinn. She rose slowly and 
said to me, "You have awakened me. You have released 
me from my prison. Now, you must be my husband." 

I was scared. I didn't know what to do. I tried to run 
away, but I couldn't. She was wise and knowledgeable and 
crafty. Every move I attempted she anticipated and 
blocked. I was trapped and had to surrender. Her name was 
Lalla Fatima"^. 

I married Lalla Fatima and agreed that she would be 
my wife. She was a Muslim jinn and promised that if I was 

4 Lalla Fatima means Madame Fatima and is a title of respect. 

Matthew Helmke - 33 

honest with her, that she would help to protect and take 
care of me. I was not allowed to tell anyone about her 
other than my human family — my wife, and some of my 

She was tall, with dark black features and no face. 
She didn't have a nose, she didn't have eyes, she didn't 
have a mouth, just smooth blackness where a face would 
usually be. We were never intimate in a physical way, but I 
saw her almost every day for over twenty years. 

Lalla Fatima gave me knowledge, showing me new 
ways to do things and work more effectively. She gave me 
wisdom and advice and the ability to see and comprehend 
new ideas quickly, more easily, and in greater detail. She 
also did other supernatural things for me that I cannot talk 

Jinn like her are one of the reasons that our people 
will never be conquered or removed from these hills. I am 
not the only one who has had an experience like this, and I 
am not the only one who has benefited from a relationship 
with one of the jinn, although there are very few who have 
been married to one as I have. 

34 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

In return for all she gave me, I gave her 
companionship. She was a widow. Her jinn husband had 
died, and her jinn children were all grown and gone. I sat 
with her. I talked with her. I shared my company with her. 

One day, as suddenly as this all started, she 
disappeared. I haven't seen her in about five years. I don't 
know if she moved, if she died, or what has happened. 
Maybe we each met each others needs and the task was 
done and it was just time for her to go. I don't know. Only 
God knows. 

Matthew Helmke - 35 

Hamid's Field 

"Hey, Where's Hamid? It's time to eat," called 
Abdelhafid. "Oh, there you are. Why didn't you answer 
me? I've been looking all over the house for you since I got 
back from the south field, and here you are sitting on the 

Hamid said nothing. He sat still. He didn't blink. He 
didn't move. Abdelhafid checked for a pulse. 

"What's wrong? Are you sick? You aren't warm, and 
you are breathing. Why won't you answer me?" 

Worry crept in to Abdelhafid's heart. This was so 
unlike his brother. Most of the time the problem was 
getting Hamid to be quiet. What could be going on? 

Abdelhafid rose to find the others. 

"Mother? What's wrong with Hamid?" he asked. 

36 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

"I don't know. He came in from the north field and 
just sat down. He hasn't moved and he hasn't said a word," 
she replied. 

From the time they were small children Hamid and 
Abdelhafid were very close. They would laugh, joke, sing 
and dance their way through each day. Of the two, Hamid 
was the most gregarious and had lots of friends. 

There was a sound at the door. 

"Hamid! Why didn't you finish seeding the north 
field like I told you?! You were out there all morning, and 
the task shouldn't have taken more than a couple of hours. 
What were you doing all day?" It was their father, 

No response. Hamid didn't even turn his head to 
look. That day he ate nothing, said nothing, and never rose 
from the couch after sitting down. 

A week passed, then two. Finally, an entire month 
had gone by. Hamid had not spoken once during that time, 
and had barely moved from his seat. He hadn't worked, he 
hadn't gone out. 

"Hamid, eat something. You are wasting away!" his 

Matthew Helmke - 37 

mother pleaded. "Please, my beloved, eat. I don't know 
what is going on, but no matter what it is, you have to eat." 

Hamid drank a little water stoically and returned the 
cup to the table. 

His mother spoke to her husband, "Mohammed, I'm 
worried. I am really scared that Hamid is going to kill 
himself by not eating. You have to take him to the doctor." 

Hamid's mother pleaded and pleaded for another 
week until finally Mohammed was able to take time off 
from the fields, arrange transportation, and take Hamid on 
the half day journey from the countryside into town to see 
a doctor. 

When they returned late that night, the news was not 

"The doctor says he can't find anything wrong with 
him," said Mohammed to his wife and his other son, 
Abdelhafid. "His body is fine. Something is wrong in his 
mind or in his spirit." 

The family summoned the local fakih^ This 
particular fakih was special because he understood sihhar. 

5 Religious teacher, leader, and local wise man. 

38 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

witchcraft, and could use his special knowledge and 
powers to discern what was wrong with Hamid. 

The fakih asked a few questions, thought for a bit, 
and looked deeply into Hamid's eyes. He then wrote 
something down on a piece of paper and gave it to the 
family. Walking away from where Hamid could hear them, 
the fakih said, "He has seen a jinn and it has taken him. 
Take this paper, and dissolve the ink in a cup of water. 
Give it to the boy and make sure he drinks it." Then the 
fakih left. 

Over the next several years the family spent all of 
their money, paying multiple fakihs to come, trying 
remedy after remedy. They took trips, pilgrimages to the 
tombs of local and distant saints, saying prayers, lighting 
candles, and leaving gifts. Nothing helped. 

After seven years, Hamid walked with a limp. His 
body became weak and gaunt. His hair grew long, dirty 
and matted. He always appeared unsettled, nervous. He 
looked around constantly. 

"Where are you taking Hamid?" his mother called. 

"The same place I always take him," replied 

Matthew Helmke - 39 

Abdelhafid, "Back to the north field. That is the only place 
where he is content and will sit still. Maybe today he will 
eat a little something while we are there." 

"Take some of the lamb tajine with you from last 
night's dinner. He always used to love lamb." 

"I will." 

With that, Abdelhafid led Hamid to the north field, 
taking him by his frail, shriveled, and nearly useless arm. 

"The stars are beautiful on Tuesdays," said Hamid. 

"What are you babbling about now?" asked 

"If you look closely, you can see patterns in the 
wind. There is a great truth there. You should stop to think 
about it," Hamid continued. 

Abdelhafid sighed lovingly, "There, there. That's 
enough. We will be in the north field in a few minutes. 
You can rest there." 

"Blue is an odd name for a color. Why blue? Would 
we still think of the sky in the same way if we called it 
'shoe' or something else?" 

"I don't know, brother. I don't know." 

40 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

They arrived in the field and sat on a rock, under a 
tree at the edge, below a small hillside. 

"You know, I don't think she will show herself 
today, brother," said Hamid. 

"Who?" asked Abdelhafid. 

"You know who," he responded. "She doesn't come 
when other people are with me. That's okay, though. I 
want to be with you today. I only seem to be able to keep 
my thoughts straight out here, and I'm glad you are here to 
share them with me today." 

"Me too," said his brother. "Hamid, when do you 
think you will get better? Will you be able to help us work 
the fields again?" 

"That's not up to me. She is in charge of that. I only 
care about what she wants and what she says. I live for my 

"I think I'll call the Aissawa, the sufi brothers. They 
are said to be able to break connections like she has made 
with you, Hamid." 

"Don't bother, brother. My Lalla Aisha is stronger 
than the brothers and their chants. No. Until she decides 

Matthew Helmke - 41 

she is done with me, I am hers. Only in her presence am I 
allowed to think, speak, and interact. She is here, you 
know. Right now. With us. She won't let us see her, 
because you are here, but she is here. I know, because I 
only have peace when she is nearby." 

So life went on. Abdelhafid worked the fields each 
day. His parents spent everything they had to bring 
Aissawa and Gnoua brotherhoods to the house to chant and 
pray. They took Hamid to be seen by more and more fakih, 
to various saints' tombs and festivals, and more. They did 
everything they knew to do, and everything they were told. 
Nothing made a difference. In the end, all was spent. They 
died penniless, leaving only the north field to Abdelhafid, 
because no one would buy it from them. 

Hamid and Abdelhafid lived out their lives in a 
small shack that Abdelhafid built near the rock, under the 
tree, beneath the hillside. Hamid spent his days sitting 
peacefully, staring into space and conversing with his Lalla 
Aisha. He wouldn't bathe. His hair and beard grew longer 
and more matted by the day. But, he was content. 
Abdelhafid worked the fields, growing enough for them to 

42 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

feed themselves, and a little to sell. And time passed. 

Matthew Helmke - 43 

Boy on an Errand 

The day started like any other day. I heard the clock 
ring, followed by the usual sounds of breakfast being 
prepared in the kitchen below my room. I rose to get 

Bleary eyed, I washed my face, combed my hair, 
and tried to brush the cobwebs of sleep out of my mind. 
The sky was still dark. I heard the call to prayer come over 
the loudspeaker, "Allahu akbar! Allahu akabar! ..." 

I realized that I had just enough time, so I performed 
my ablutions at home and got dressed quickly, then went 
to the mosque to pray. It wasn't far, just a five or ten 
minute walk. Today, I ran. 

As I approached the door, I realized that I had worn 
my good shoes. I didn't want to leave them at the door. 

44 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

because I was sure that I would worry about them being 
taken while I was praying, and that distraction would 
invalidate my prayer. To help me concentrate on God, I 
asked a shopkeeper nearby for a plastic bag. I entered the 
mosque, putting my shoes in the bag to keep next to me, 
and went in to pray. They were just beginning, so I was 
there in time. 

After the prayer time, I returned home. The sun was 
just peeking over the horizon and I knew my mother and 
sisters would have food ready and waiting. I was right. I 
sat and ate in silence and began to plan my day. 

"First, I'll go to the shop and see what Abdsalaam 
needs me to get for him." Abdsalaam is my oldest brother, 
and the head of the family now that my father is gone. "If I 
have time, I'll go to the cafe later with Simo and Tariq." 
Those were some of my friends. We love to sit in cafes and 
talk. We talk about sports, about politics, about the future, 
and about the weather. We also talk about girls. A lot. But, 
only when we are sure no one outside of the group is 

I drank my juice and rose to leave. "Hamdullah," I 

Matthew Helmke - 45 

said. "Praise God." God is the reason we have food to eat. 
It is important to remember to praise him for giving it to 

Abdsalaam was not in a good mood that day. As 
soon as I arrived, it began. 

"You're late!" he growled. 

"Forgive me, brother. It is exactly 8:30, the same 
time I always arrive," I replied, trying to be submissive 
and gentle, even while daring to contradict him. 

"Don't talk back to me! You are lucky I even let you 
work here you worthless, good-for-nothing, son of a ..." 

The irony of him using phrases like that always 
made me laugh. I tried to stifle it, but one slipped out. 

Slap! His hand impacted the side of my head hard 
enough to leave me unbalanced and dazed. I sat down 
quietly and tried to keep the tears from appearing. Any 
sign of weakness would only give an opening to more 

I thought to myself, "If only I was older. If only I 
was bigger. If only, if only, if only..." 

"...and then you must take the envelope to Si Larbi. 

46 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

Don't delay! This is important. Wait there in his office 
until he gives you something to bring back to me." I 
realized my brother was talking to me, and that I had 
missed half of what he said. 

In my panic, I couldn't decide whether to ask him to 
repeat his instructions, to make sure that I did everything 
right, or not. What would be better? What would be safer? 
Think fast! Too late. 

"Why are you still standing there? Do you need me 
to hit you again? Go!" Abdsalaam ordered, pointing to the 
door of the shop. 

I ran out the door. Not knowing what to do, I looked 
at the envelope my brother had given me. It was sealed, 
with no markings on the outside, and no way to tell what it 

Si Larbi lived very far away, all the way across 
town. I didn't have any money to take a taxi. I didn't even 
have enough money for the bus. I decided I needed to start 
quickly. It would take nearly two hours to walk there. 

Another of my friends, Rachid, lived in the same 
part of town as Si Larbi. His house was on the way, so I 

Matthew Helmke - 47 

decided to stop and say, "Hello." It would only take me a 
couple of minutes, and if he heard that I was so close and 
didn't stop, he might be hurt. 

"Welcome! I'm so glad to see you. Come in. Come 
in." Rachid greeted me with a huge smile and let me to the 
sitting room. He stepped out quickly and returned minutes 
later with a small table, some cookies, and a pot of tea. 
"Tell me, how are you? What's new? How is your family?" 
The questions went on and on, one after the other, with no 
chance to answer the first before the second was spoken. 

I smiled and responded in a similar fashion. After 
completing the ritual, we settled in to a peaceful and quiet 
posture, each of us relaxed and sitting back in our seats. 

"I told my mother to make sure we have enough 
couscous. You have to join us for lunch today," my friend 
said. This was more of a polite order than a question. 

"No, I can't," I protested. "My brother sent me to 
take this envelope to Si Larbi and I need to do it quickly." 

"Si Larbi? He is on your side of town this morning. 
He won't be back until after lunch anyway." 

We both looked at the clock. 

48 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

"There is no way you can make it back across town 
before he leaves to come home. You should stay here, eat 
with me, and go to his house afterward," Rachid advised. 

I tried to protest, to make sure he really wanted me 
to stay and eat. After the third invitation, I relented. He 
wanted me to stay, and I was hungry. 

We finished the meal around 2 p.m. I thanked my 
friend profusely, pronouncing blessing after blessing upon 
him and his family. Then I walked out to door to find Si 

When I arrived at Si Larbi's house, only the maid 
was home. She let me sit on the front step, out of the sun, 
but she would not let me enter the house. I waited. 

After what seemed like forever, but was really about 
two hours. Si Larbi arrived. He saw me and exclaimed 
kindly, "There you are! I looked all over for you near your 
brother's shop. You didn't have to come all the way over 
here. Did you bring it?" 

I handed him the envelope. He opened it and 
frowned. "Didn't you go to the bank first? This is a letter 
telling them to deposit the money, that is here in the 

Matthew Helmke - 49 

envelope, into my account. You were supposed to bring 
me the deposit receipt, and I was going to give you an 
important paper." 

Embarrassed, I let out a meek, "I'm sorry. I 

Si Larbi was very gracious and said, "That's okay. I 
have to be on your side of town again tomorrow. Have it 
ready for me then and I'll come to the store." 

As I walked away, I wasn't sure whether to feel like 
the luckiest person alive to be treated so kindly, or whether 
to shake and cry in terror as I imagined what Abdsalaam 
would do to me. I began the long hike home. 

It was late. I thought I would try to save some time 
by crossing the creek at a place where there were some 
rocks that stick up, instead of walking all of the way 
around to the bridge. 

It was right at dusk as I approached the water's edge. 
I stumbled. I almost fell in, but someone grabbed me. I 
started to thank him, but he didn't let me go. Instead, he 
gripped my arm more tightly and pulled out a knife. 

The man dragged me to a nearby house and roughly 

50 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

threw me toward the door. He ordered me to remove my 
shoes and go inside. I did. I entered a room with one small 
window, overlooking a market down the hill. 

I began to ponder my fate. What would happen to 
me? What was going on? I also wondered whether being 
forced into slavery would be worse than returning to face 
my brother. 

The door locked behind me. I was alone. I heard 
noises coming from the house next door, and then the call 
to prayer. Then I heard the screams. 

The man returned, dragging behind him a young 
woman. Her arm was twisted behind her back. He was 
hitting her and she was screaming, "Don't send me away! 
Don't hit me!" 

He told me to get out and I did. I ran. I didn't get 
very far. Just outside the house next door stood an old 
woman. I pleaded, "Woman, do you know what is 
happening here? We need to call for help!" 

She told me to be quiet. "That man is my son," she 
said. "Listen, and I will explain everything. 

"The woman you saw is his wife, but she is not a 

Matthew Helmke - 51 

normal woman. No, she is not even human. She is a jinn. 

"Every evening, at the call to prayer, she changes. 
One day she is wonderful; polite, kind, and humble. The 
next day, she is horrible and evil. Every single day she 

"You arrived just as the change was about to 
happen, and she was out near the creek. My son brought 
you inside to keep you safe. If you had seen the change 
take place, the jinn may have decided to kill or injure you." 

They returned my shoes, brushed me off 
apologetically, and I walked away stunned. What should I 
believe? What should I do? What shall I tell my brother? 

It was at that moment that I realized it. My envelope 
was gone. The screams of the jinn behind me kept me from 
going back to look for it. 

52 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

Matthew Helmke - 53 

The Old Lady's Visit 

Aicha rose slowly and hobbled across the room. It 
was dark, but that didn't really matter. She had been living 
here so long that she could move around safely with her 
eyes closed. That was a good thing, too, because her 
eyesight was failing. It was for this reason Aicha presumed 
that the world would forgive her dingy home, poor attire, 
and disheveled hair. If she can't see it, she can't be 
expected to do a good job cleaning or maintaining it. 

"Ohh," she groaned as she thought about the day to 
come. "If only I weren't so old, this would be easy." She 
dreamt back to the days of her girlhood, back when she 
would run, skip and play like a baby sheep, happy and 
playful in its innocence. 

Someone in the government office had asked her 

54 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

last week how old she was. Aicha responded as she always 
did, "You can read the card." She was referring, of course, 
to her government issued identity card, which everyone 
had been required to carry for years. 

"Yes, but your card just says, 'unknown,'" replied 
the confused official. 

"Well, if you people, who are paid to know 
everything, don't know how old I am, then how am I 
supposed to know?" Aicha responded, with a hint of 
playfulness and a slight bit of that air of authority that only 
elderly matrons have. No one argues with an old woman, 
she thought to herself, especially one as old as me. 

Truthfully, no one in the village knew how old 
Aicha was. She had always been there, it seemed. There 
was one old man there, the oldest in town with a birth 
certificate. He was 83, and he remembered Aicha being old 
enough to take care of him and his sisters when he was a 
small boy, so she had to be at least eight or ten years older 
than him. And she looked it. 

Whether it is polite to talk about the elderly this way 
or not, I am merely trying to be truthful. Aicha looked 

Matthew Helmke - 55 

every bit of 90 years old, and perhaps more. She was short, 
probably much shorter than at the peak of her life. Her 
weakening and shrinking frame caused her to walk with a 
bit of a stoop, leaning on a sturdy old stick she used as a 
cane. She didn't bother with a veil or headscarf anymore 
and she liked to joke about it saying things like, "What, 
I'm going to incite some man to lust uncontrollably if I 
don't wear these? I would like to meet the man who is 
excited by my thinning white hair and deeply lined face." 
Most believed she was only half joking. 

Today, Aicha was going to visit her relatives, her 
nieces and nephews, at their home. She had lost track of 
everyone's name in the newest generation and all the 
specific details of their lives, but someone in the family 
was having a birthday, or a circumcision, or some other 

It was even harder to remember since Aicha had 
never married and therefore never had children of her own 
to take care of her in her old age. She had passed from her 
father, to her brother, to one of her nephews, and later to 
one of the boys in the generation after that. The people she 

56 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

now called nieces and nephews were actually great or 
great-great nephews or something like that. She once tried 
to remember and realized she didn't actually care. It was at 
that moment that she had decided, and announced the 
decision, that she would be living on her own for the rest 
of her days. 

Aicha wasn't quite certain whether everyone was sad 
she had moved out or happy to see her leave. It was true 
that she wasn't of any use doing housework or helping 
raise the young children anymore. Then, almost all of them 
promised immediately to give her a small amount of 
money each month. It wasn't much, but she always had 
enough to pay the rent for her small room and to provide 
for her meager food needs. 

So, Aicha went to the party. Upon her arrival, she 
was guided gently into the sitting room, to a seat of honor 
in the women's salon. From there, she couldn't see the 
door, or the window, or the food, or really follow what was 
going on, but everyone that came to greet her said this was 
the seat of honor, so why argue? 

At that moment, Aicha started. "He's coming! Get 

Matthew Helmke - 57 

ready," she exclaimed loudly. Her shrill voice became 
quite loud and animated and she began to direct the family 
with her hands. 

"Who is coming, auntie? What's wrong?" the family 
asked with concern. 

"Why, the fakih, of course. He is almost here," she 
replied in a matter of fact tone. 

"Auntie, what are you talking about? Why would 
the fakih come?" one asked. 

"Ask Mohammed, he gave the invitation," she said. 

Just then, there was a knock at the door. It was the 
village wise man, the fakih. Aicha didn't notice, but several 
of the family members began to stare at her with fear in 
their eyes. "Go get Mohammed," one said. 

Mohammed arrived and greeted the fakih. "Thank 
you for coming to pray the blessing. We are almost ready." 

His family asked him if he had told Aicha about 
inviting the fakih. "No, of course not. I didn't tell anyone, 
not even you," was his reply, as he led the old sage into the 
men's salon. 

The music played. The food was served. Time 

58 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

passed. Alternately, Aicha nibbled at her food, talked 
quietly to anyone who came to greet her, and took short 
naps. Then the house became quiet. Even from the 
woman's salon, Aicha and the other ladies could hear the 
fakih begin to recite from the Qur'an. He chanted slowly, 
melodically, with a rich and almost sad sounding tone. At 
one point Aicha interrupted the proceedings from her seat. 
"Stop! That should have been a fatha, not a 
damma,'"' she exclaimed, referring to the vowelling of an 
Arabic word in his recitation. The family rushed to her to 
quiet her down, but she would not be pacified. She 
repeated herself, even more loudly the second time. This 
time, the fakih heard her, to the embarrassment of the 
entire family. 

Quietly he asked, "Is the lady a sage?" 
"No, sir," the eldest man in the family replied. "She 
cannot read nor write a single letter. She has never been to 
school or studied anything scholarly in her entire life. I'm 
so sorry, sir, for the interruption. Please forgive her. Please 
forgive our family for the disgrace. Please continue with 

6 These are the names of two short vowel sounds in Arabic. 

Matthew Helmke - 59 

the blessing. Please..." 

"That's enough," the old man broke in gently. 
"Bring the old lady in here to me." 

Everyone's eyes widened. This breach in protocol 
was unprecedented. What would the village wise man say? 
What was he going to do? Would the family be ruined? 
Embarrassed? A nervous silence ensued as Aicha was led 
into the man's salon. 

"What did you say, madam?" asked the fakih. 

"My lord, you made a mistake." Aicha replied 
politely, yet firmly. "You pronounced a damma in that 
word, and it should have been a fatha." 

"That is quite a scholarly comment for someone 
who cannot read nor write. When and where did you 
memorize the Qur'an?" he asked. 

"I have not," said Aicha. 

"How then can you speak with such authority?" 

At this the family broke in, again begging the sage's 
pardon for the humbling correction, for the interruption, 
and for the embarrassment. 

"Please, be quiet," he said gently to the others. "The 

60 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

lady is quite correct. I have quoted tliis passage with the 
same mistake for years and no one has caught it until now. 
This lady, Aicha, should be honored and respected as one 
blessed by God, for it was not through study or memory 
that she discovered the error, but by something more 
powerful and mysterious." 

The room fell silent. Nervous glances were 
exchanged everywhere as the family suddenly acted as if 
they just wanted the ceremony to end. 

"May I ask one more time, dear one, how you 
knew?" prodded the fakih kindly. 

Then, a different voice, that of a man, spoke out of 
Aicha's mouth. "We are believers," it said in a low, smooth 
tone. "Don't worry, we do not want to disturb anyone's 
peace. We will be quiet now." 

At that, the old woman fell to the ground. She began 
to tremble wildly, flailing about with her hands and feet 
and head thrashing. Her face contorted into a grimace. 

"Leave her!" shouted the fakih. He began to quote a 
different passage of the Qur'an over her, expecting that to 
exorcise the jinn. 

Matthew Helmke - 61 

At this, the voice speaking from her changed. Now, 
it was much more gravelly and rough. "No!" it screamed. 
"She is ours, and you are a fake. You have no authority 
here. You can't even quote a simple and common passage 
correctly. You leave!" The shrieks and screams turned into 
a low, rumbling growl, like that of a large dog who has 
been cornered. 

The fakih continued, getting louder and more 
intense as he recited. 

Yet another voice began to speak from Aicha's 
mouth. This one was calmer, more controlled, and spoke in 
a melodic and smooth tone, with a hint of mockery. "I 
know that passage, too," it said. Immediately, this voice 
began to recite the same passage as the fakih, using the 
same tones, the same inflection, the same rhythm. It was a 
perfect imitation, except for the addition of a mocking 
expression on Aicha's face and an "I dare you to continue" 
look in her eyes. 

The fakih stopped and exclaimed, "I will never 
return to this house or pray over anyone in this family 
again." With that, he bundled up his things and walked 

62 - Nowhere Else to Turn 


Some of the family chased after him, trying in vain 
to change his mind, but he had been shamed. That shame 
would be too much to bear. He would leave and deny the 
entire incident. It would be the word of a family against 
the word of a well respected scholar. He would be fine. 

The rest of the family divided the chores in the 
house, cleaning up, resetting the home, and some knelt on 
the floor next to Aicha. 

"What is going on? What do they want with her? 
What can we do?" they asked themselves, each other, and 
even the jinn. At first, the only response was silence and 
continued grimaces, contortions, and spasms. Finally, one 
asked directly, "What do you want with her?" 

"It's not your business..." came the slow, measured, 
rumbling reply. Then silence. 

Suddenly, it was over. As quickly as the episode had 
begun, Aicha became herself again. "Why am I on the 
floor?" she demanded. "Help me up. It must be getting 
late. I have to go home. How did I get in this room?" 

"You don't know, auntie?" one of the younger ones 

Matthew Helmke - 63 


"Don't play games with me, I'm an old woman. You 
should be ashamed of yourself." Aicha gathered her 
belongings and hobbled out the door. No one followed. 

64 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

Matthew Helmke - 65 

A Visit at Night 

Aaaiieeh! Aaaiieeeeh! Aaiieh!! Houda awoke with a 
jolt, screaming and trembling in fear. She began to quote 
and recite the Qur'an repeatedly and loudly. Her sister, 
Amina ran into the room. 

"What happened? What's wrong?" she yelled. 

Aaaaiieeeh! Aaaah! and again Houda returned to her 
Qur'an recitation. 

"Tell me! Tell me what is wrong! How can I help?" 
her sister demanded. By this time the rest of the family had 
arrived. In the presence of them all, Houda began to 
describe what had happened. 

"I was asleep," she began, "and I felt something. A 
big, heavy weight laid hold of my feet. It crept up my legs 
and continued up my entire body until it arrived at my 
chest. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't speak. I couldn't cry 

66 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

out. I couldn't even move. I was paralyzed and I was 
trapped. As I felt it move up to my neck, I was certain that 
death was close. 

"I started to recite the Qur'an, first in my mind, and 
then slowly, as I was able, with my lips. It began silently, 
but God hears all. Then, I was able to whisper, in a voice 
softer than a breeze. My heart was beating so loudly in my 
ears that I still couldn't hear myself. The feeling started to 

"I was able to move my head. I knew I had to 
continue the fight, or I would die. I kept repeating the 
Qur'an over and over and over. Anything and everything I 
could remember, I spoke. It worked. The oppression went 
away little by little. When you heard me scream, it was the 
first time I could make any noise out loud, and I regained 
that ability just as the feeling left my feet and I would start 
to move again." 

Lalla Saida, Houda and Amina's grandmother spoke 
up. "This was a boubrak'. It is very dangerous. You could 
have been killed. A jinn was sent to you to take you. We 

7 This is the name for the event. 

Matthew Helmke - 67 

must act quickly to keep you safe." 

"Mother," interrupted Karim, their father, "No one 
believes in that garbage. Don't scare them and fill their 
minds with superstitious nonsense." 

"Shh!" she replied quickly. "Hamza fii al ayin." 
"Five in the eye." It means, "May the hand of Fatima blind 
the evil eye and protect us." "My son, you don't know 
what you are saying. There are many things in this world 
which you understand better than me, but not this one. 
Leave and let me take care of my granddaughters." 

Karim sighed. Most of the world may belong to 
men, but not this part. He wanted nothing to do with 
witchcraft, jinn and superstition, but there was nothing he 
could do to combat it. There was also a very small part of 
him that worried about whether she might be right. "It is 
best not to get involved with this," he thought to himself, 
and left. 

"Listen to me and I will teach you," began Lalla 
Saida. "We must get you to a fakih quickly. Today. He can 
pray and recite over you a spell of protection after making 
sure that the spirit has gone. Then we will buy a new 

68 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

hamza charm for you to wear and anything else he 
recommends. Do you have any money?" 

Houda nodded. "I have fifty dirhams." 

"Oh no, that's not enough," her grandmother replied 
sadly and fearfully, "And I don't think Karim will give us 

Amina quickly interjected, "I have two thousand 
rials (one hundred dirhams)." 

"Perfect. All together we will have enough," sighed 
a relieved Lalla Saida. "First, let us go to the hammam and 
do the cleansing." 

"Grandmother, I can do wuzu here, why do we need 
to go to the hammam?" 

"No, my child. The lesser ablution is not sufficient. 
We don't know what the jinn might have done while you 
were paralyzed. We must be cautious and make absolutely 
certain you are ritually clean. We must make ghasul al 
janabah, the greater cleansing, for you." 

"Grandma! I'm a virgin. That is not necessary! That 
washing is for after sex." 

"Trust me, my girl. That is not its only purpose. 

Matthew Helmke - 69 

Come, we must go quickly." 

The three of them went to the hammam, the local 
bath house, to perform the ritual cleansing, Houda, because 
she needed to, Lalla Saida, because she knew how, and 
Amina for moral support. It was a quiet time of day and 
only two other women were in the hammam. That was 
good, because Houda wasn't sure she would be able to 
handle the stress of other women seeing her perform this 
ritual and wondering if she had become a dirty sinner. In 
truth, no one else even noticed she was there. They were 
only there for a few minutes, not the typical full morning's 
relaxation of a standard, weekly visit. 

As they exited, Amina asked, "Grandmother, how 
will we find a fakih to help us?" 

"Don't worry, my child. I know a very good sihhar^ 
nearby. I have used him many times." 

"Grandma!" exclaimed both girls. 

"You have had good lives so far and I have been 
able to shelter you from this world, but it is very real. We 
have had supernatural help to keep you safe, to get a job 

8 Sorcerer. 

70 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

for your father, and later a promotion, to protect against 
sickness, and more. This man can be trusted to help us," 
explained Lalla Saida. 

They walked quickly and quietly the rest of the way 
through the city. It was only a couple of miles away, and 
before too long they arrived at a tall, nondescript 
apartment building. 

"This is it?" asked Houda. "Somehow I was 
expecting something more mysterious looking, more 

"Don't judge from looks. Water may be held by any 
jar, not only the most ornamented," replied her 

They entered and climbed the stairs, three flights to 
the correct door. There were no markings except for the 
apartment number. There was no sign and no other way to 
know who or what might be inside. This was a place to 
which one only came by introduction or invitation. 

Lalla Saida knocked softly. A voice from inside 
called out, "Who is it?" Quietly she answered, "Those who 
seek truth and safety." The door opened and the three 

Matthew Helmke - 71 

seekers entered respectfully, as if entering a holy 

"Give me your identity card," demanded a young 

Shocked, all Houda could think of to reply was, 

"Your identity card. I need it to make your 
appointment with the master," the girl replied. 

"Grandma, this is weird and I feel uncomfortable. 
Let's get out of here," said Houda. "Why should he need 
my card and identity info?" 

"My child, the sorcerer needs it to confirm you are 
telling him the truth during the interview." 

Just then the girl broke in. "No, I'm just joking. I 
saw that once on a television show with Lalla Fatima and it 
always makes me laugh to watch newcomers squirm 
uncomfortably." She laughed good-naturedly. "You don't 
need to give me your card. I will need to ask a couple of 
simple questions, if that is okay." 

A little confused, but relieved, Houda nodded. "Go 

72 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

The girl asked about her age, where she was from, 
her name, and why she had come to see the sorcerer. 
Houda replied honestly, and a bit more completely than 
she had intended to do. The three seekers were directed to 
sit and wait in a salon while the girl who received them 
went further into the apartment to talk to the master. 

A few minutes later the lights dimmed and the girl 
returned. "The master will see you now. His eyes don't like 
the light, so I had to turn them down. Please, stay seated 
and he will come in shortly." 

"Ask for deliverance," came a quiet and raspy voice 
from the hall. "Ask for deliverance," it repeated. Slowly an 
old man rounded the corner into the room. He was short 
and frail, wearing the traditional robes of a southern 
Berber and a turban. His face was deeply lined and his 
dark eyes were set back deep into his forehead, set off by 
his short, white beard. He shuffled into the room and again 
said, "Ask for deliverance" as he was seated opposite the 
ladies. He stared at them expectantly. It was the 
grandmother who answered first. 

"Deliverance," she said. 

Matthew Helmke - 73 

Quickly, the two girls repeated after her, 

"Which of you is the one who experienced the 
boubrak?" asked the old man quietly. 

"It was me," Houda replied tentatively. 

"Give me your hand my daughter and I will take a 

She held out her hand to him. 

"No, child, not the hand of evil. Give me your right 
hand, unless you are Fatima herself, the left hand is 
dangerous and I don't want to touch it," began the old man. 

Embarrassed, she withdrew her left hand and gave 
him the right. "I'm so stupid," she thought to herself, "I 
have never given anyone my left hand. Perhaps I am 
inhabited by jinn." 

The sorcerer stared at her hand a long time. He 
traced the lines with the index finger of his right hand, 
while holding the hand palm up with his left hand under it. 
Occasionally he made odd grunts and thoughtful sounds. 
Hmm. Eiee. Hrumph. This didn't make Houda feel good. 

"What do you see, my lord?" said Lalla Saida, 

74 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

finally breaking the tension and disturbing the near silence 
of the room. 

"Oh, my sister! This is not good. Our daughter is in 
great danger. Someone has cursed her. It is good that you 
came so quickly. Do you have the money?" 

Lalla Saida looked at the sorcerer with confidence, 
"Yes, sir. We brought three thousand rials. It is all we 

"Very good," he replied. "Give me one hundred 
dirhams. You will need the remaining fifty to buy the 
things I tell you to buy. That will be enough to keep her 
safe the rest of the week, and give you time to gather 
together more money. Next week, bring me two hundred 
and fifty dirhams, and I will make an amulet that will keep 
her safe forever. For now, this will do." 

He motioned to his assistant, the girl that greeted 
everyone at the door, and she took the money from Lalla 

"Now, my daughter," he said to Houda, "Let us take 
a closer look. First, repeat after me, and then I need 
absolute silence. Deliverance." 

Matthew Helmke - 75 

"Deliverance," they all repeated. This happened two 
more times, and then the room fell quiet as the man 
appeared to enter a trance. He swayed back and forth 
smoothly, rhythmically. His eyes glazed over and he began 
to speak to the spirits, "Oh, jinn! I adjure you in the name 
of Sulayman the great, your master, to tell me all I need to 
know to help this girl. I appeal to the good among you. 
Show me how to prevent the evil one, the evil eye, from 
taking her away to hell." This continued for a full twenty 
minutes, with alternating requests, demands, and 
invitations, all aiming to invoke action from among the 
jinn. He appealed on behalf of the girl, her sister, her 
grandmother, her other relatives, both living and dead, on 
behalf of the Prophet Mohammed and on behalf of his 
daughter, Fatima, on behalf of other saints long dead and 
other persons whose names had no meaning whatsoever to 
the ladies. 

In the end, he stared at Houda. Then he looked at 
Amina. Finally, he looked at Lalla Saida and spoke to her 
in a low, conspiratorial tone, "Woman, you understand. 
These children do not yet comprehend what is attacking 

76 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

them. You must be the responsible one. Take them under 
your wing and protect them. Guide them. Teach them. You 
must go to the market and buy what I tell you, and prepare 
it. They won't know how. The responsibility is yours, no 
one else can carry it for no one else is capable. Are you 
ready and willing?" 

"Yes, by God," she replied seriously. 

He gave her a list of things to buy in the 
marketplace, powder made from a dried toad, a bit of hair 
from a zebra's hide, and several other exotic and 
frightening things. "Prepare it as I have instructed you, and 
use it as I have directed. Come back next week with the 
money, like I told you. Then we will finish the task." 

He rose silently and walked out of the room. 

Immediately the lights came on and the spell of the 
atmosphere and the sorcerer's presence was broken. The 
girl who welcomed them at the beginning returned and 
said kindly, "I hope we will see you next week. Come back 
and all will be well." 

The three ladies rose in silence. They looked at one 
another fearfully. What would happen? Truly no one 

Matthew Helmke - 77 

knew. None of them had the money that was being 
requested. How would they raise it? Would this be Houda's 
last week alive? Only God knows. 

78 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

Matthew Helmke - 79 

I Can Tell Your Future 

I have never been to a fortuneteller or a sorcerer. 
Those things are forbidden in Islam. They are from Satan. 
Good people should not have anything to do with them. 
Not ever. This is what The Prophet (peace be upon him) 
said and taught. This is what the holy Qur'an says. This is 
what is written in the traditions and what is taught by the 

It really doesn't matter anyway. The people who do 
these things are only doing it because they want money, 
and there are always ignorant people who are willing to 
give them money. I don't think there are any real 
fortunetellers. I don't think the people claiming to be 
sorcerers and witch doctors have any real power. They mix 
up potions out of their heads and use smooth sounding 
words that say nothing. If there has ever been any power in 

80 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

that sort of thing, it has gone out of the universe. 

Oh, wait! I did know one girl, when I was still in 
secondary school. She was a Moroccan Jew, and she 
claimed she could tell the future. She was from Fez, from 
the Hassarfati family, but nowadays they call themselves 
Serfati. I don't know why. I won't tell you her first name. It 
doesn't matter anyway, she moved to Spain a long time 
ago. That was the last I knew of her. Anyway, I'll call her 

Sara and I used to spend a lot of time together. We 
grew up in the same neighborhood. We played together as 
children, even though she is a Jew and I am a Muslim, we 
were close friends. We went to the same schools. We 
attended the same classes. We liked the same boys. 

For years, Sara and I would sit together and dream 
about the future. First, we used to talk about what would 
happen when the French leave, when they are forced out of 
Morocco. Mohammed V, then called a sultan, was still in 
exile, but our families were working together to help him 
return. Did you know that the independence movement 
began in Fez? Well, it did. And it was people from Fez that 

Matthew Helmke - 81 

made the French sit up and take notice. It was people from 
Fez that convinced our countrymen to rebel against the 
oppressor. It was our city that led us out of bondage. 

We felt good in those days. We would talk of what it 
would be like when our good sultan was returned to us. 
Did you know that Hitler once sent him a message, while 
he was still in exile, offering to help return him to power in 
exchange for all the Jews? Really, he did. Do you know 
what Mohammed V said in response? He said there are no 
Jews in Morocco, that there are no Muslims or Arabs or 
Berbers either — there are only Moroccans. It was the 
French who used ethnicities and religion to divide us, and 
it was Mohammed V who helped unite us. Back then, we 
really believed it. We were sure that in the golden future, 
there would be no class, ethnic or religious struggles 
anymore, not for us Moroccans anyway. 

So Sara, she and I were nearly inseparable. We 
would leave our houses early in the morning to meet each 
other and walk slowly to school, savoring each moment of 
one another's company. We would meet in class, when 
possible, or during breaks to chat and gossip about the 

82 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

day's events and the boys we had seen. Oh! We were some 
of the first to have the privilege of attending school. That 
was because of our families and the powerful positions 
they had in the community, as well as the beginning of 
changes in society. We dreamed that one day, all girls 
would have the opportunities we were enjoying. 

After school, we would walk home together, slowly. 
Not too slowly, though. If we took too long we would both 
get in trouble. Our families wanted to be sure to preserve 
our honor and that of each family, so we couldn't be out 
and away from supervision for very long. 

And then, the best part, every once in a while, 
maybe once every month or two, we would have a chance 
for one of us to visit the other at her house. Oh, how we 
loved those moments! We would arrive, greet all the 
female elders and sisters, and then run off to hide in a 
forgotten corner or room to giggle and whisper. 

This went on for years. We were best friends from 
the time we were four or five years old, until we were in 
our later teen years. Then, we found out something about 
her that had been hidden and secret for all these years. She 

Matthew Helmke - 83 

was an ifrit, a demon child. What do I mean? Child, who 
teaches the youth these days? Do you know nothing of 
what is important in life? Listen, and I'll tell you the rest of 
the story. Hopefully you will understand. 

One day, when we were about sixteen or seventeen, 
Sara came to my house. My grandmother was ill, and she 
came to bring her family's greetings and best wishes for a 
speedy and complete recovery. After that, we went into a 
room by ourselves. Sara closed the door. That was rare, but 
not so uncommon that we would get in trouble for doing it. 
It usually meant she had some especially good gossip 
about a boy we both liked, or perhaps some sensitive news 
about a family in the neighborhood. 

Instead, she pulled out some cards. I didn't know 
what they were, or what they were even called. I asked her 
where she got the pretty pictures. She smiled and called me 
silly. "Don't you know what tarot cards are?" she said 
gently. I was terrified, she wanted to tell our future. I 
protested that this was forbidden, but she interrupted me 
and told me to give her my hand, my right hand. Since she 
put the cards away, I thought it would be okay, so I did. 

84 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

She studied my hand for a while, then she said 
softly, "I have bad news. I'll tell you that at the end. First, 
call your sister." When my sister arrived, Sara looked at 
her hand as well. "Oh, lovely. I have interesting and 
mostly good news for you." 

Sara proceeded to tell my sister that she would 
marry a Frenchman, move to France, and that she would 
marry two times. We replied that this was absurd. It is 
impossible for a Muslim girl to marry a Christian man. It is 
impossible for a woman to have more than one husband, 
because it is vital to know who her child's father would be 
(which is also why it is okay for a man to have more than 
one wife, you always know who the father of all the 
children is, but I'm getting sidetracked). It is impossible 
because our family doesn't know any foreigners, and 
especially not among the French. Ridiculous. 

Sara only replied by telling me to call my brother 
into the room. This was unusual, and not really acceptable, 
but times were changing. We thought that maybe it would 
be okay to allow him into the room with all of us girls. 
Plus, Sara wouldn't be alone with him, both my sister and I 

Matthew Helmke - 85 

were there. 

We called him and he came. She looked at his hand 
and told us all that he would meet an American woman 
and move with her to her country. Well, we conceded that 
it is legal in Islam for a Muslim man to marry a Christian 
wife, but we still said it was absurd. We did not know any 

Finally, she looked at me. "I have very bad news for 
you. Are you sure you want to hear it? You don't have to." 

Since we all thought that she was just making things 
up and playing some sort of silly game, we all agreed that 
she should tell us her news. 

Sara said that I would never get married, that my 
brother would get married first, and then my sister. Then 
she said that our grandmother would not recover from her 
sickness, but would instead die within the week. 

All three of us exploded. How dare she come into 
our house and say such offensive and outrageous things! 
She insulted my family, she insulted me. I am the oldest. I 
can see how my brother, a male, might get married before 
me, but not my sister. Plus, women here always get 

86 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

married young, and men do not marry until they can 
support a wife and family, so they get married older. The 
worst was having the nerve to say that our beloved 
grandmother would die, and to say so in our house! We 
grabbed her, dragged her to the door, and tossed her into 
the street, telling her to never return. 

You have to be careful with people who are not 
Muslim. Sometimes, even if they mean well, they start 
playing with powers they don't understand and it warps 
them. Sara was always such a wonderful friend. How this 
could have happened, we did not know. We were not 
worried about what she said coming true, as we were 
convinced it was not real, and that if it were, that God and 
The Prophet (peace be upon him) would protect us because 
we are true Muslims. 

Then grandma died. It was only four days later. We 
wept and mourned. Sara's family sent word that they 
would ask the rabbi at the Em Habanim synogogue to say 
the kaddish for her. We told them not to bother, that we 
didn't want or need their satanic mysticism in our family. 
If their daughter could predict the future, she was in league 

Matthew Helmke - 87 

with devils. If she could not, then she was a deceiver and a 
liar and therefore evil. And in any case, she had insulted 
our family in our own home. As a result, we cut all ties to 
her and to her family. 

We never heard from them again. I did see Sara 
walking to and from school on occasion, but only from 
afar. Each of us had modified our daily routines so we 
wouldn't end up crossing paths. I also took the precaution 
of warning all of my Muslim friends about her, so they 
would not be affected by her evil. Life went on. We mostly 
forgot about Sara and her predictions. 

About five years later, when my sister was just 
seventeen, my father brought home someone he met in his 
work. At this time, Morocco was once again independent. 
This was good. Things didn't work out quite as we 
expected, though. We thought that the French would be 
our enemies for life, that we would kick them out of our 
country and never allow them or their influence to return. 
After we regained our independence, we all discovered 
that we needed their help, their partnership in trade, their 
expertise in building infrastructure, and so on. We also 

88 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

discovered that there were a lot of French people who were 
actually happy that we were no longer considered a 
protectorate or a colony, but that we were governing 
ourselves. That surprised us, well, it surprised me anyway. 
I probably shouldn't speak for everybody. 

So anyway, my father brought home this engineer. 
He was a Muslim, but he also had French citizenship. 
Wow. We were amazed as my sister and I had never heard 
of such a thing. He had nice eyes. I had my eye on 
someone else, and my family knew it and were excited 
about the prospect. However, my sister was unattached and 
at a good age. The man thought so too, apparently, as he 
later asked my father about his daughters. He told my 
father how difficult it is to find a good Muslim girl to 
marry in France, and how he was interested in finding a 
wife during his visit. The two men made an agreement, 
and my sister was happy. She moved to France with him as 
his wife. 

Later, it was discovered that this man was not 
everything he said he was. In fact, he was not even a 
believer! The marriage was a false marriage and my sister 

Matthew Helmke - 89 

returned home humiliated and shamed. Because of the 
man's Hes, and our innocence in the situation, people in 
town quickly forgave the indiscretion and her reputation, 
while blemished, was restored to a good one. 

After a few years, she caught the eye of a merchant 
from town. He approached our father, who was thrilled 
that someone wanted his tainted daughter, and she was 
married again, this time to a true Muslim. 

It was around this time that my brother entered the 
university. He also began to augment his studies by 
attending English classes at the American Language 
Center. There were people there from all over the world. 
One of the instructors was a single American woman. She 
wasn't particularly beautiful, but she was a Christian and 
she was nice. Most importantly, she had a blue passport 
and the promise of opportunities that came with it. 

We all encouraged my brother to pursue her as a 
wife, even though she was actually older than him. Well, 
The Prophet's first wife (peace be upon him), Khadija, was 
an older woman. She was even a widow, and a rich one 
who helped secure his economic security at that time in his 

90 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

life. Why shouldn't my brother follow his example? 

It turned out that the American woman loved all the 
attention my brother paid to her and was quickly enthralled 
with his charm. They were married by the end of the year, 
and it wasn't long after that that they found a way to get 
permission for him to live with her in America, so they 
moved there. 

That was when we remembered what Sara had said 
all those years earlier. So far, it has all come true, every 
bit. I am still hoping that she was wrong about me. Do you 
know anyone who is interested in marrying a 70 year old 

Matthew Helmke - 91 

The Magic Shop 

Abderrazzaq was angry. He was usually angry, but 
today was different. This was a larger, more powerful 
anger. How dare that foreigner come to his shop and ask 
him questions! He picked up a pink incense stone and 
threw it. It landed in a bin of dried herbs without the 
satisfaction of giving the slightest noise. 

A steady stream of curses and obscenities flowed 
through his mind. Of course, none of these would actually 
be spoken. No. It was too important to maintain 
appearances and the steady facade of wisdom. The people 
must not see Abderrazzaq's anger. That could undermine 
his power, position, and authority. This was not something 
worth risking over one nosy infidel. 

The day had begun normally. Abderrazzaq had risen 
early. He had gone to the mosque to pray, then he had 

92 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

come to open his shop for the day. And his shop was a 
special one. This fact was plain for everyone to see. There 
were very few who understood the power and the potential 
of his wares, but anyone, even a stupid kaffir who can't 
even dress himself properly, could tell there was 
something powerful here. 

It was a small shop. No more than fifteen square 
meters total, less than one hundred fifty square feet. There 
was barely enough space for Abderrazzaq to enter and 
move around, but that was okay. No one was actually 
allowed inside to browse his stock. On one wall was a 
door, the wall that faced the small street where crowds 
passed by on foot all day. When the folding, metal door 
was open, he could hang some of his products, the ones 
which drew the most attention and which advertised most 
clearly his purpose, on the door and the walls beside it. 
People could see he was a seller of magic supplies, a 
maker of potions, and a man of extreme power and 
wisdom in the realm of the supernatural. 

There were animal skins from zebras, cheetahs and 
others. Next to them were hanging strings of dried lizards 

Matthew Helmke - 93 

from the desert and a small, open burlap sack filled with 
dried chameleons. He had cages with live ones and boxes 
of tortoises from the desert in various sizes. These were 
necessary for normal activities, but were far more 
important for their advertising value. Only someone with 
deep, esoteric knowledge would be able to procure them 
and know how and when to use them. Abderrazzaq's most 
prized possessions, however, were kept inside. 

Inside. That is where mysteries live. In the dark. In 
the secret and secluded places. Only the eyes of the 
enlightened are allowed to see those things in their raw 
states. No, Abderrazzaq was not willing to talk about what 
he used or why. He was not willing to talk about his 
sources. Once a year he would close his shop for a month 
or so and just disappear. When he would return, it would 
be with a fresh supply of power for sale. 

No one dares to ask Abderrazzaq for specific items. 
You don't walk in and ask for a chameleon. You come 
humbly. You describe your problem, your sickness, or 
what sort of help you are seeking from the spiritual realm. 
Only after he completely understands the problem. 

94 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

sometimes taking a full hour just to interview a client, will 
Abderrazzaq offer a solution. Sometimes, he will enter the 
darkness of the shop's interior. You will hear bottles 
clanking, a mortar and pestle grinding, and a knife 
scraping or cutting. In those times, he will emerge with a 
small and scented pouch to wear around your neck, or a 
packet filled with a mysterious mixture of dried herbs and 
animal parts, maybe some filaments of unknown origin, to 
add to food or drink to be ingested. Other times, he will set 
an appointment for the client to meet him somewhere else, 
usually late at night, for special assistance. 

What the hell was that stupid farangee thinking? 
Foreigners and unbelievers do not belong here. They have 
no business with us. This is not for them. Abderrazzaq 
could not get them out of his mind, with their pasty white 
skin, blue eyes, and the audacity to try to take pictures of 
him, his shop and his supplies. Do they think I will give 
my secrets away? To them?? The thought appalled him 
and made him feel a bit nauseous. I would let this 
knowledge die first. None of my own family know my 
secrets. You expect me to tell you, an infidel, a dog? He 

Matthew Helmke - 95 

Spat at the ground contemptuously as he contemplated the 
very idea. He couldn't help going over the scene once 
again in his mind. 

He saw them while they were still far off. Foreigners 
don't usually come to this part of town. When they do, 
usually they are lost or something is wrong. Wait! These 
foreigners were being guided by Hassan. That old traitor. 
Just because he used to be the neighborhood spy, reporting 
on everyone's actions to the government, he thinks he is 
somebody. It's been a long time, Hassan. Remember when 
they fired you? For being drunk? You are as bad as they 
are. Don't bring that filth here. 

"Salaamu Alaikum!" said Abderrazzaq in a kind, 
gentle voice, "Peace be upon you, and greetings Mr. 
Hassan. I see you brought some visitors with you today." 

"Wa alaikum salaam," Hassan replied, "And upon 
you, peace. Yes, these Americans are looking to find the 
'real Morocco,' to discover how 'normal people' live, not 
just the ones you see at the tour bus stops or the fancy 
resorts. They are interested in your shop." 

"I see." answered Abderrazzaq. "Tell them I sell 

96 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

traditional medicine, herbal supplements to help with 
digestive problems and things like that." 

"Tell them yourself. That one speaks Arabic." 

Suddenly the blue-eyed, white man broke in, 
"Salaam, assaidi. Peace, sir. Please forgive the intrusion. 
May God open for you the doors of Heaven, please tell me 
what you do here? What is your purpose in this 
neighborhood? What do you sell?" 

Abderrazzaq was taken aback with a short gasp that 
he hoped no one noticed. He quickly regained his 
composure and replied, "Sir, I can see you are well 
educated. How surprising to meet an American who speaks 
Moroccan Arabic. Darija is not a common language for 
foreigners. Are you a Muslim?" 

"No sir, just someone who lives in this country and 
likes the people here very much, enough to work hard and 
learn how to communicate with my friends. So, you are a 
sort of doctor, a pharmacist, you say?" 

"Yes, that is all. There is no magic here. All we do 
is help people who can't afford to go to the western doctors 
and use the European medicines. Our goods cost less and 

Matthew Helmke - 97 

work just as well for minor problems. We can't cure 
cancer, but I can sell you something to help with 
impotence." Abderrazzaq hoped the foreigner didn't quite 
grasp the intended insult, and he amused himself while 
giving it. 

"I see. What sort of stomach ailment is eased with 
hair from a cheetah skin? Is dried lizard of value as a skin 
creme? Does it somehow cure psoriasis? I can see that it is 
not especially effective on acne." Thrust, parry, riposte. 
The battle of the wits had begun. How long would it 
continue? Would this outsider be willing to go all the way? 

"Tell your friend to put his camera away. You may 
take no pictures of me, of my shop, or of my things. Do 
what you want elsewhere, but not here. It is forbidden." 
Abderrazzaq stood firm, but without showing his hand or 
answering to the issue. He thought, "I underestimated him. 
He must be a spy, but for who? I can't risk finding out. 
This battle need not be won. A stalemate will be adequate. 
Time to turn to stone." 

Apparently the foreigner felt similarly. With a quick 
word to his comrades, he looked back at the shopkeeper 

98 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

and studied him briefly. Abderrazzaq was a short man, 
short and thin with a worn face, wrinkled and tan like 
leather. He wore a traditional robe, with a wool cloak over 
it, because today was a rather cold day. On his head was a 
knit cotton skullcap, typical of men of his generation. The 
clothes were old, and slightly worn, but well cared for. The 
shop was small and dingy, but absolutely packed with 
merchandise. Looking into Abderrazzaq's eyes, the 
foreigner knew he would get no further information from 
this man. Better to let him save face and maintain his 
respect in the neighborhood. Perhaps some one of the the 
several other shopkeepers in the area, all of whom have 
been watching the exchange intently, will be willing to 
chat a bit. 

"Sir, I thank you for your time. If I ever have a 
friend with a stomachache, and he is in this area, I will 
make sure to send him to you for help. May God help 
you," the foreigner said as a polite goodbye. 

"May God help you," replied Abderrazzaq, adding 
under his breath, "to leave quickly and not return." 

Matthew Helmke - 99 


Sa'id was sick. Again. It was frustrating. His family 
had tried everything in their power to help him get well. 
He had visited doctors. He had taken medicine. He had 
followed their diets and regimes to the letter. Nothing 

The Bensouda family was not particularly religious. 
They prayed, when they thought of it, or when people were 
around. Otherwise, they considered themselves to be 
modern people, people who believe in science, in 
philosophy. God has a place in there somewhere, mainly in 
the cultural foundations of their lives. 

What do you do when you have exhausted the 
resources of what you know? There was no medicine left, 
no new procedure or treatment to try. Sa'id was sick, and 
he was not going to get well, and least not with the help of 

100 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

science and medicine. 

It was in the middle of those feehngs and thoughts 
that Sa'id's uncle arrived. He was an old man, well in his 
70s or 80s. 

"I know what you need. You need to go to visit the 
saints, offer a sacrifice, and ask them to pray on your 
behalf to God." 

"With all due respect, uncle, I don't believe it that. 
No one needs anyone to stand between them and God as an 
intercessor. If a person wants something from God, he 
should ask God directly," answered Sa'id. 

His uncle. Si Abdellah, continued, "I know you, my 
nephew. I know your whole family. You are good people, 
but you don't pray. You don't live for God the way you are 
supposed to live for God. Why would you expect that he 
would answer, or even listen to your prayers? The saints 
are good men, blessed by God. They lived lives of 
devotion and became friends of God. You have been to the 
doctor. You have prayed to God yourself. We all know the 
sorcerers and their work is evil. What is left? Ask the men 
of God, the murabitoon, those tied to God and to the 

Matthew Helmke - 101 

community, to pray on your behalf." 

"I wouldn't even know how, uncle. No one my age 
believes in those sorts of things. I know that when you 
were young almost everyone believed in them and did as 
you are suggesting. Today, no one under the age of forty 
has any knowledge of this. It is a dying belief." 

"Come, my boy, and I will teach you. We have 
much to do." 

Sa'id and Si Abdellah began their preparations for 
visits to the tombs of Moulay Boushta, Sidi Ahmad Tijani, 
Sidi Ali Boughalib, Moulay Idriss the First and the 
Second, Sidi Hamamoush and even Sidi Ali and Sidi 
Harazem, although the last two made Sa'id laugh a bit 
inside since their names are all over the country, being 
used to sell bottled water from the natural springs bearing 
their names. 

"Uncle, there are so many. How can we do it? Plus, 
it is very expensive to buy and take a sacrifice with us to 
each place. How shall we ever pay for it all? What does a 
dead person need with a chicken or a goat anyway?" asked 

702 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

"The gifts are for the descendants of the saints. It is 
our way of honoring the heritage and blessing of the saints 
themselves, by helping to provide for their progeny. Don't 
worry, Sa'id, God will provide what we need to give." Si 
Abdellah didn't tell the boy that he had cleaned out his 
own life's savings to collect enough money to buy candles 
and sacrifices to offer at each location. "It is time, let us 


First, they went to the more commonly known and 
easiest to visit tombs in Fez. At the shrine of Moulay Idriss 
the Second they entered quietly, bearing a gift of a large 
candle. They lit it and put it in place as they asked the 
descendant of the Prophet Mohammed to assist them in 
their time of need, to please ask God on Sa'id's behalf for 
healing, for health, and for protection. Even though they 
knew the path well, it was difficult to get in and out that 
day. The city had become a tourist site, with people from 
Europe, America, and more coming to tour and shop as if 
Fez is part of a living history museum. While they were 
praying, the two men saw cameras flash from outside the 
door of the sanctuary and heard the mobs of tourists in 

Matthew Helmke - 103 

shorts and t- shirts jabbering in unknown languages. 

"This is all wrong," began Si Abdellah. "This place 
has been defiled by all the outsiders coming to gawk and 
stare. There is no baraka left, no blessing. Let's leave." 

He and Sa'id walked just a few minutes, twisting 
through the narrow, tall and winding passageways of the 
ancient city. When they arrived at the shrine and mosque 
of Sidi Ahmad Tijani, it was closed. They hunted around 
the area until they found someone with a key to open the 
door. As they entered, they were told that they should have 
come the previous month, during the annual festival for the 
saint. At that time, there were people from all over, 
including as far as Senegal and the Sudan. There had been 
music, chanting and recitations, sacrifices, and prayers. 
That was the time to come. If they wanted to enter and 
pray now, that was okay, but they should also plan to 
return next year for the festival. 

The two men sighed. Again, this felt fruitless and 
frustrating. Empty. Si Abdellah looked at his charge and 
directed him to pray. They did, performing all of the 
necessary parts of the pilgrimage rituals. Then they left. 

104 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

They hoped their visit to the festivals of Sidi AH ben 
Hamdoush and Sidi Ahmed Dghoughi, near Meknes, 
would be better. Those ended poorly. 

At these, several people were arrested for entering 
into homosexual marriages during the festival. This was 
after the two men had witnessed amazing acts said to 
display the power of the members of the Sufi sect, the 
Hamdusha, acts which did not feel holy at all. The 
Hamdusha would dance and sing themselves into a frenzy, 
and at the emotional peak of the festivities begin cutting 
themselves with bits of pottery, even throwing whole pots 
into the air and allowing the falling pots to land on their 
heads to cut and injure them further. 

The members of the Sufi brotherhood would drink 
boiling water and offer it to the crowd. They would stick 
knives into their eyes, and then threaten to do the same to 
anyone in the crowd that failed to give an appropriate 

Some in the crowd would light candles to pray for 
the blessing of Lalla Aisha, a female jinn, a spirit. This 
made the men very uncomfortable. 

Matthew Helmke - 105 

"Uncle," Sa'id began, "I thought these things were 
outlawed, both by Moroccan civil law and by Islamic law. 
I can feel in my heart that these things are not good, and I 
know they are not what you have taught me my whole life. 
Are we suddenly Shi'a, that we should behave as they do 
during their mourning of Ali?" 

At that moment, a woman became more and more 
excited, chanting and dancing with increasing fervor. She 
entered into a trance and fell to the ground, where she 
began to speak, but with the voice of a man rather than the 
one she had been using. 

"I agree, nephew. We should leave, and quickly. 
Surely there is a saint somewhere in Morocco that is still 
celebrated by people interested in more than money and 
spectacle, and who are unstained by pagan ritual. We will 
look," answered Si Abdellah. 

Their visits to the other shrines ended with similar 
feelings, though the specific circumstances were different 
in each case. They visited places near Fez, then in the 
surrounding region, and even traveled as far as Agadir in 
the Souss looking for something that was both powerful 

106 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

and real. 

In the end, they decided to visit the shrine of 
Moulay Idriss the First during his moussem. After the bad 
experience at his son's tomb in Fez, they had not wanted to 
come, but they were running out of options, and Moulay 
Idriss is generally honored most highly among the saints in 
Morocco. This was the father of the man whose tomb they 
had visited in Fez, one who brought Islam to Morocco, 
long before the territory bore that name. Back then, the 
most powerful of the chiefs of the indigenous Berber tribes 
lived in the decaying Roman frontier city of Volubilus. 

Moulay Idriss was the great-grandson of the Prophet 
Mohammed, the grandson of Mohammed's daughter, 
Fatima and his nephew, Ali. He had been the heir to the 
caliphate in Damascus, but there had been a civil war. A 
disagreement broke out over who was the best person to 
lead the Muslim community, a descendant of the prophet, 
or one chosen solely on the basis of their morality. With 
the split between the Shi'a and the Sunni, and the victory 
of the Sunni Ummayads, the Middle East became a 
dangerous place for a descendant of Mohammed to live. 

Matthew Helmke - 107 

He headed west to spread the word of Islam. 

When Moulay Idriss arrived at Volubilus, he entered 
into an accord with the inhabitants, who crowned him their 
leader and protector against another Arab, Harun al-Rashid 
of Baghdad, who claimed dominion over this land. Moulay 
Idriss led everyone in the Berber tribes in politics and in 
the faith. He started his own city on the hills nearby, 
surrounded by olive groves. Zerhoun was easier to defend, 
and better for living, but it was not perfect. One of his 
enemies from Baghdad eventually sneaked in and poisoned 
the holy man, who was then buried in his city. His servant 
led the community until his son, Moulay Idriss the Second, 
was able to rule. 

"Come, my nephew. Let us go and offer a sacrifice 
at this holy man's tomb," said Si Abdellah. "Surely one so 
close to the holy prophet, both in deeds and in blood, will 
be able to help us. So powerful is this great man's baraka 
that it is said that seven pilgrimages to his tomb are the 
equivalent of one pilgrimage to Mecca. Perhaps he will 
plead with God to have mercy on us." 

They arrived by taxi in the town, down at the base. 

108 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

the town square at the bottom of the steep hill. Zerhoun is 
built on two small, very steep hills, with a open area on 
one side in the center. From this marketplace, one may 
climb the steep slopes and walkways up, up, up the hill. 

Finally, after a difficult climb for an old man and a 
sick younger one, they arrived at the tomb. The entrance 
began with a walk down a long, somewhat narrow 
corridor. The floor was tiled in a diagonal square pattern of 
marble and stone. The lower portion of the side walls were 
covered with small, hand cut tiles in a very basic, but 
attractive pattern. The walls and archways were pure 
white, with the occasional brass lamp. They arrived at the 
main entrance to the inner chamber, which welcomed its 
guests with beautiful marble pillars, most likely salvaged 
from the ruins of the Roman city. Of course, the open 
ceiling of the mosque courtyard was edged with the same 
green ceramic tiles as the roof covering the mausoleum. 

The two men entered the shrine in awe. They 
respectfully performed their ritual prayers and then 
approached slowly. As they did, they were overwhelmed 
with emotion, even Sa'id, who still wasn't sure he believed 

Matthew Helmke - 109 

in all this. They felt at peace, and sat along a wall of the 
mosque to present their requests. With permission, they 
spent the night there praying. Then they spent a second 
night, and a third. 

It is said that God did have mercy on them, for they 
never woke up from their sleep that last night. Instead, the 
people here say God took them to paradise. 

770 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

Matthew Helmke -111 

The Grotto 

Rabat is pretty this time of the year. It isn't too hot. 
It isn't too cold. There is a nice breeze that comes in from 
the ocean which lends a sweet fragrance to the air. If you 
climb up the steps to the gate and enter the Casbah des 
Oudaias, then pass through to the lookout point above the 
mouth of the Bouregreg River, you will have a lovely view 
of Rabat's sister city, Sale. 

You may have heard of Sale. It was the embarkation 
point for raiders, pirates actually, for many years. This 
river used to be a little bit deeper, and the shallow hulls of 
the "Sallee Raiders," as they were known by the British 
and others, were able to navigate upstream. The deeper 
hulls of the European and American ships they attacked 
were unable to enter, and were instead trapped by the 
cannons at Sale and Rabat. That may have been the high 

772 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

point of local power and international influence. 

Today our claim to fame is that we have the seat of 
the government. The King lives here, he has multiple 
palaces in the area, and this is also the location of the 
different government ministries, the parliament, and most 
of the embassies for the nations of the world. Still, some of 
the ancient ways remain. 

There is a cave nearby, a grotto really. It is a very 
important grotto. It is filled with baraka, with blessing. A 
woman who comes to this grotto and performs the proper 
ritual will marry. That is vital to her happiness and 
survival. At least that is what they tell me. 

Who are they? They are my sisters, my aunt, my 
mother, and even my grandmother. To make absolutely 
sure they are telling me the truth, I have asked others about 
this place. Without fail, they all tell the same story. Still, 
I'm not ready to do it. Even though all the important 
women in my life say I am getting old, that I am nearly 
past my marriageable years, I am just not sure whether this 
will do anything to help. 

I'm sorry. I really should step back a bit. You don't 

Matthew Helmke - 113 

know anything about me, about my family, about my 
situation. How can you possibly understand what I am 
talking about, and why this is important, unless you know 
who and what I am? 

I am the youngest daughter of the youngest 
daughter. The last of the line. Everyone else is married. 
My grandmother and even my mother are widows, and my 
two brothers take care of them, one each in the brothers' 
homes. Then there is me. I am the extra burden that each 
one fights to get rid of. One extra person in each home is 
welcome, two people means one person too many. They 
want me to get married so that my husband will be 
responsible for my safety, for my housing and food, and 
for my livelihood. 

My sisters all mock me. "Look at you," they say, 
"You are already fifteen years old, and still you do not 
have a man." I try to respond that this is 2008, that 
Moroccans are getting married older now, that it is okay to 
wait until after I finish high school and maybe even study 
at the university. They tell me I am a selfish little pig. All I 
want to do is pursue what is best for my future. They tell 

114 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

me a man is what is best for my future, not "stealing from 
my brothers." 

I really don't know what to do. I want my family to 
love me, or to at least like me, or in the absence of that, to 
respect me. They don't. Maybe if I do what they say, they 

It wasn't always this way. When I was young, and 
my father was still alive, everyone treated me better. I 
remember times when he and grandpa would take me to 
the cafe with them and let me sit at the table while they 
talked about life, politics, and the news of the day. Those 
were good times. I miss both men terribly. 

Oh yes, back then things were different. If someone 
was mean to me, then dad or grandpa would stick up for 
me and protect me. They died last year in a fishing 
accident, something about there being too many people in 
the boat and it tipped over. Anyway, I don't know much 
about what happened, but I've never seen that many people 
fishing in the same boat at the same time. Where would 
they put the fish? Well, there's nothing I can do about it 
but mourn. 

Matthew Helmke - 115 

Ever since then, I am not allowed to talk about them, 
I'm not allowed to go outside the house without an escort, 
and sometimes I can't even go out of my bedroom unless I 
am coming to help with the housework. It seems I have to 
do most of the housework now. The good side is that there 
isn't as much anymore since most of the family has moved 
out, but grandma and mom don't seem to want to do 
anything. They boss me around all the time. They make 
me clean, cook, and everything. The only thing they will 
do is the shopping, because they say they don't want other 
people looking at me before I am married and out of their 

I just remembered a kind of sad and odd story that 
will help you understand my life. About six months ago, 
my sister was preparing to be married. She came in to the 
house and talked for a while with all of us ladies. There 
was going to be a big party that week at our house to 
celebrate. Everyone from our family, uncles, brothers, 
nieces and nephews, even people from out in the 
countryside were coming. Her soon-to-be husband's family 
were all coming, too. There was going to be music and 

776 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

food and I was so excited. 

On the day of the party, I spent the whole day in the 
kitchen, helping prepare the lamb, the roasted chickens, the 
sweets, and everything. I didn't even get to eat, I was so 
busy. Finally, the time came and our guests started to 
arrive. I hurried to take off my work clothes and put on my 
party dress when my mother, grandmother, and sisters all 
said, "What do you think you are doing?" 

I told them I needed to get ready for the party, and 
they told me I had to stay in the kitchen to take care of 
things because they were all going out to host the ladies in 
the woman's party room while the male relatives would be 
hosting the men in their room. 

I complained that I wanted to go with them, and they 
said there was no way. I was the youngest, and it was 
therefore my responsibility to take care of everyone. That 
didn't seem right, but what could I do? 

I heard the music. I saw the presents pass by the 
kitchen on their way to the room where they were being 
stored. I finished preparing the food, just like I was told, 
and gave it to the the relatives in charge of doing the 

Matthew Helmke -117 

public hosting when they came to take it to the guests. The 
men ate first. The women ate later. I was allowed to eat 
whatever was left over. Then, I cleaned it all up by myself 
and went to bed crying. 

Maybe getting married wouldn't be so bad. How am 
I supposed to meet someone when I am only allowed to go 
to school and straight home? With how my family treats 
me, I'm afraid of who they would pick for me. I don't think 
there have been any men asking for my hand anyway. I 
wonder, is it me? Is there something wrong with me that 
no one wants me? 

My sisters always call me names and say that I am 
ugly, stupid and undesirable. Could it be true? Maybe that 
is why they keep telling me about the grotto. Maybe if I 
went there, it would make me desirable enough for 
someone to ask my family to marry me. If that happened, I 
could escape. That's it. I decided to do it. 

And so the preparations began. Let's jump ahead two 
short weeks. 

I have never been so nervous in my life. For years I 
have heard about this ritual, how it is performed, what I 

118 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

need to have with me and what I need to do. I never 
dreamed I would perform it myself. I am fully dressed in 
my jellaba and head scarf, as usual, but today I am 
carrying a red string with me. I only hope I can find at 
least one, preferably several older, married women to help 
me when I get there. My family has been so difficult lately 
that I decided I would have to do this without them, so I 
left school early today, before anyone would know I am 

I took the bus out to the river. Then, I hiked to where 
I was told to find the grotto, along the sea, a little ways 
past the mouth of the river. I made sure no one followed 

When I got close to where I was told to go, I was 
lucky enough to find two old women. They were smiling 
and they asked me if I needed help with the ritual. I was 
very grateful. They helped me push past the crowd, which 
I did not expect to be there, and into the grotto. The sandy 
floor was soft and wet. They told me to get ready. 

I took off all of my clothes and handed them to one 
of the women. The other one tied a red string to my wrist 

Matthew Helmke -119 

and told me to lay down on a long, flat rock in the corner, 
which she pointed out. I did. The women laughed and told 
me I did it wrong, and corrected how I was laying down. 

They said that for the ritual to be effective, they 
have to leave me alone in the grotto, just as I am, and that 
they will exit, holding the other end of the red string. 
"How long to I have to stay here?" I asked. 

"Just until we tug on the other end. We will do that 
when we are sure that the baraka is working. It may take 
half an hour or an hour. Just wait. Don't forget, you have to 
be completely silent the whole time." 

So I laid there. And I laid there. And I laid there 
some more. Finally, it had been several hours. I knew 
because the sun was high in the sky when I entered, and 
now it was starting to get dark. I tugged on the string. It 
didn't give, and it didn't tug back. I got worried. What if 
the ritual didn't work? What would I do? 

I heard voices outside, lots of them, mostly young 
men. Someone noticed the string moving. Oh no, they 
were laughing and talking. What was that they were 
saying? Something about another one duped. Where are 

720 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

the women? Where are my clothes? How will I ever get 
out of here? 

Matthew Helmke - 121 

Don't Cry 

"Shut that child up, and do it now!" The voice 
echoed through the house, continuing up the narrow alley 
we lived on, and into the ears of our neighbors. 

"Grandma, why do you have to be so loud and angry 
sounding when you say that?" I asked tentatively. "All the 
neighbors will hear, and it embarrasses me." 

"I have to be loud, so that the neighbors know that 
we are doing our best to keep things quiet. I don't want 
them to think we are ignoring the boy. That would be 

"It doesn't matter anyway," I replied with a sigh, 
"They can't hear what you are saying over all the 
screaming and crying. Grandma, we have to do 

"I have an idea." 

722 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

Slowly and deliberately, the old woman packed a 
small bag with food. She gently picked up her very loud 
grandson and motioned to her granddaughter to follow. 
The two of them walked through the ancient city of Fez 
together, winding through the twists and turns of narrow 
passages, past open areas with fountains and shops, down 
dark and forbidding alleys. Not a sound was spoken by 
either woman, but little Nassir cried loudly the entire way. 

Finally, they exited the gate at Bab Ftouh. 

"Grandma, where are we going?" the younger 
woman asked. 

"We are going to get help from Sidi Harazem." 

"Sidi Harazem!" the boy's mother replied, "Are you 
crazy? We don't have the money to take a bus all the way 
to the saint's hot springs." 

"What do they teach children now days? Honestly, 
my granddaughter, do you not know that there are two 
saints with that name? The second, Sidi Harazem the Cold, 
is buried right up on the hill in front of you, on the way to 
Sahab al Ward. We can walk there in a few minutes." 

The group walked, out from the city gate, across the 

Matthew Helmke - 123 

large road that goes to the new town in one direction and 
to Oujda in the other, and began their trek up the hill on 
the other side. They passed the walls of the cemetery. They 
passed the vendors, with their wares on blankets on the 
curb. The grandmother stopped in front of a man with a 
cart loaded with fresh fruit. Nassir was still discontent and 

"How much for two oranges?" she asked. Then 
followed some bargaining and arguing, until finally, she 
was content with the price and bought two big ones. 

"I really don't understand what you are doing," 
chimed her granddaughter. 

"We need an offering for the saint. Since we are 
poor, this will be acceptable." 

"But, grandma, what are we doing?" 

"Sidi Harazem the Cold is able to cure children of 
screaming and crying fits. This has been done for hundreds 
of years. Some people try to do it at home, but it is far 
more effective to do it here, at his tomb. Come, and you 
will understand." 

They climbed further, eventually entering the gate to 

124 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

the cemetery. Then, they winded past the markers to the 
mausoleum of the saint. It looked like most, about ten or 
twelve feet square, with a green tile roof, and a metal door 
on one end. There was a person sitting on the step by the 
door, dressed in rags with a dirty face and matted hair. 

"This, my granddaughter, is one of the descendants 
of Sidi Harazem, and so she must be honored. The family 
carries, to this day, a special blessing and power. The 
ladies gave their gift of fruit, which was gratefully 
accepted. Then, the door to the tomb was opened. Little 
Nassir was beside himself with frustration, loudly venting 
his anger with tears. The ladies entered the tomb, with 
their guide, and placed Nassir on the floor. 

"Quickly, you must move quickly," their guide 

All of them ran out of the door, except for the boy. 
The door to the tomb was shut and bolted from the outside. 
Nassir screamed even louder from within. 

"How long do we have to do this?" the child's 
mother begged. "I can't take it!" 

Both the grandmother and the daughter of the saint 

Matthew Helmke - 125 

replied that he must remain in the tomb until he is calm, 
completely calm. If he does, he will never cry again. 

They waited. The screams changed from angry to 
frantic as panic took over. 

"Grandma! He's only two!!" 

"No, child, we must leave him there. The saint will 
help him." 

The weeping mother listened as her son's tears 
turned from hysterical weeping to a mournful wail, and 
then to a whimper. 

"Can we go in yet to get him?" she asked. 

"No, not yet. He must be silent." 

The ladies waited for over two hours. They ate some 
of the food they brought, sharing with their hostess. The 
mother cried some more and was held and consoled by the 
other two. 

"There, there, dear. You really are doing the right 
thing. He will be so much better behaved after this is 

Finally, it was silent. To be sure, the ladies waited 
another twenty or thirty minutes, asking Sidi Harazem to 

726 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

help the boy and make sure he would stay calm. Then they 
opened the door. 

Looking up, they saw two glassy eyes with a distant 
stare. The treatment was effective. He would never cry 

Matthew Helmke - 127 


I have spent the last few weeks reading over my 
notes and this manuscript again. In the process, I found 
some photos; one of the fig tree mentioned in A Wife from 
the Mountains, another of me with the friend with whom I 
attended the soccer match, shots of various sites in the city 
of Fes, where I was privileged to live for many years. 

During this time I have been struck yet again by 
how normal all of these stories seemed to the people 
telling them. The supernatural was not something unusual 
or exotic to them, it simply described power beyond what 
each of them had. 

Many of my friends in Morocco believe in these 
things. Many do not. All give assent to the prevalence of 
its existence in the corporate mindset. You can not have a 
conversation in Morocco without mentioning God. You 

128 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

can not greet your neighbor, welcome a client, or visit the 
barber without the name of God being invoked, typically 
many times. In Morocco, even the agnostics and the 
atheists speak of God, the devil, angels, demons, genies, 
blessings and curses. You can not understand the country 
nor the culture without first understanding both its official 
religion, Islam, and also its unofficial quasi-religious 

I am now living back in my country of origin, the 
United States of America. There are wonderful things in 
both places, but I find myself missing in America the 
openness that Moroccan culture has to the existence of the 
supernatural realm. Those who talk about such things in 
the West generally fall into the category of X-Files fans, 
UFO believers, or a certain percentage of religious 
adherents. In each case, the general population thinks these 
beliefs are eccentric; benign at best, odd and dangerous at 

Personally, I think our world could stand to have a 
bit more openness to mysticism, more of an 
acknowledgment that there are things that are 

Matthew Helmke - 129 

unexplainable by science and which may best be left that 
way. Then again, perhaps the current trend toward movies 
with ores, fairies, and religious themes are demonstrating a 
return of openness that is growing in the hearts and lives of 
the younger generations, no longer content to believe in 
nothing but that which may be proven or observed by the 
scientific method. Time will tell. 

In any case, I hope you have enjoyed the book and 
have gained from it a new insight into and appreciation of 
a culture and people whom I love deeply. 

130 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

Matthew Helmke - 131 

Final notes and thoughts 

You may have noticed the license under which I 
have released this work. Let me take a moment and explain 
why I have done this, rather than reserve all of the rights 
for myself. This work is definitely copyrighted, you can 
see that on one of the first pages. I am the copyright 
holder. I have created this work for several purposes, one 
of which is that I hope to make some money from it. 
However, this is not the only reason for publishing this 
book. My greatest hope is that other people will find the 
information contained within it useful. I have given you, 
the reader, permission to copy, distribute, display and 
perform this work, and to make derivative works, as long 
as you follow a few simple rules on which I will now 

132 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

First, you have to make sure and tell everyone that I 
am the author and owner of the copyright. In other words, 
you can copy it for your personal use or even for others to 
benefit from, but you can't claim that you are the author. 

Second, you may not use this work for commercial 
purposes — that's my prerogative and my privilege alone as 
the creator of the work. I'm happy for you to use it as you 
like and even share it, but any money made from this work 
should be made by me. 

Finally, if you alter, transform or build upon this 
work for any purpose other than personal use (that is, if 
you distribute your changes or additions) you must also 
release your work under this same license. You can be paid 
for your work, your additions or changes, but you have to 
let others use them in the same way I have let you use this 
work. Why? 

It is my goal that as many people as possible benefit 
from this work. If you want to study it in a group and one 
person from the group buys a copy and then makes 
photocopies for the others in the group, I'm okay with that. 
If you can afford to, I would prefer that you each buy 

Matthew Helmke - 133 

copies, but I'm not going to be persnickety about it as long 
as you don't sell the copies. I really hope that you will be 
able to make good use of the content that is in this work, 
that you feel free to discuss it, and learn from it. 

I want you to feel free to make a study guide if you 
wish, or recordings of the texts, or whatever else you 
might think up. However, if you do so, then I simply 
require that you treat me and others as I have treated you. I 
require that you release your work with the same 
availability and limits I have placed on this one so that 
others will benefit from your work just as you have 
benefited from mine. I also ask that you properly cite your 
original source (me). Sound fair? I think so. "Freely you 
received, so freely give." 

Following in the same vein as the work's license, all 
the software and even the fonts used in creating this book 
are freely licensed and can be used and distributed without 

134 - Nowhere Else to Turn 

Matthew Helmke - 135 

Fonts used. 

FreeSans and FreeSerif, Copyleft 2002, 2003, 2005 Free Software 
Foundation, and and for 
more information. 

Also by Matthew Helmke 

Humor and Moroccan Culture 
ISBN: 978-0-6151-4284-5 

Available on and may be ordered from most major retailers. 

More of Matthew Helmke's writing can be found on his website at 

136 - Nowhere Else to Turn